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English Idioms

“Pipe Dream”

Pipe Dream

Meaning: An impossible dream or fantasy

Frequency of Use: Medium

Possible Origin: It refers to a dream that a person can experience when smoking an opium pipe. If one prefers, there are other similar expressions without the drug reference including “when pigs fly” or “a pie in the sky.”

Sample Sentences

  1. My brother thinks he’ll pass this class, but that’s a pipe dream. He hasn’t done any of the homework, and his test scores are very low.
  2. Without any money in today’s challenging economy, opening a new business is just a pipe dream.
  3. Although traveling overseas seemed like a pipe dream last year, Maria has been able to earn enough money to make it happen.
  4. Some of my friends kept telling me that entering Harvard University was only a pipe dream, but I received my acceptance letter a week ago, and my lifetime goal is coming true.
  5. You become a famous singer when pigs fly. I just don’t see that ever happening in my lifetime.
  6. Winning a lot of money in the lottery is a pie in the sky.

Conversation Questions

  1. What is one goal in your life that seems like a pipe dream, but you hope that it comes true?

Speaking Situation

You are about the graduate from college, and you would like to work at Google as a computer engineer. However, getting a job there seems like a pipe dream because Google only accepts a handful of new employees to work in your area. You have a job interview in three days, and you find out that there are about 100 applicants for only five positions. What will you do to prepare for the interview to increase your chances of getting the job?

Possible Answer

“I would probably come up with a list of 20 possible interview questions that I might be asked. Then, I would prepare a list of 10 questions to ask the company. All of this preparation should help.”

Language Activity

Sometimes, learners know the meaning of an idiom, but they don’t know how to use it correctly in conversation or writing. Thus, this activity checks your grammatical accuracy with the idiom so you become more confident in using it. 

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